How Forward Head Posture Affects Your Spine
Your time on digital devices can hurt your health – addressing tech neck with custom orthotics will help
These days, cell phones are used for much more than just making calls. They’re multi-tasking tools used in place of watches, alarm clocks and maps. Are you among the 63% of Americans who keeps their cellphones within arm’s reach at all times, and checks them hourly (or more)?1 Handheld digital devices like cell phones sure make life a lot more convenient. But the way we use them can cause undue stress on our bodies. Over time, that stress can lead to pain and increase your risk for a neck injury.
Tech neck (otherwise known as cervical kyphosis) is a condition that’s becoming more ad more prevalent around the world as people spend increased time on their digital devices, straining to read the small print on the screens. Our heads weigh between 10 and 12 pounds.2 Holding them in the proper upright position keeps the weight steady. The best way to read a cell phone screen is to hold the head upright and bring the screen up to the face with an arm. However, most people look down at their cell phones while sitting, walking and standing, which causes them to drop their necks and lean forward.
As we lower our heads to look at handheld devices, this unnatural angle causes the pressure on the neck and base of the spine to grow. With every inch the head moves forward, gravity causes the weight of the head over the body to increase exponentially. If the body is already unbalanced and out of alignment, the pressure grows. Considering how often we use our digital devices, that strain really adds up.
The effects of tech neck
Tech neck affects muscles, ligaments, nerves and bones. In the short term, tech neck can result in:
- Mild to severe headaches
- Pain, stiffness and inflammation in the neck, shoulders and back
- Tingling, numbness and decreased mobility in the upper extremities
In the long run, your tech time can put you at greater risk for:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Muscle and nerve damage
- Curvature of the spine
What you can do
Simple lifestyle changes can help you combat the effects of tech neck. Take frequent breaks from your devices, stretch regularly and make sure you always read the screens at eye level.
How your doctor can help
Partnering with a chiropractor can help you get relief from your current symptoms and keep the condition from coming back by:
- Evaluating you for body imbalances that are contributing to your neck disfunction
- Demonstrating stretching exercises to help you develop and strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles
- Showing you proper positions for using digital devices
- Performing adjustments to help you achieve and maintain optimal posture, balance and alignment
- Assessing your feet for unhealthy foot function that can throw your body out of alignment and intensify the effects of tech neck. They can prescribe Foot Levelers custom orthotics to stabilize your body at its foundation – the feet. Just like a house needs a firm foundation to stay stable, your body needs properly aligned feet to move and support your weight correctly. This lessens stress on your joints and helps them do their jobs efficiently.
Tech neck affects people of all ages and backgrounds. If you think your own tech time could be putting you at risk for this condition, talk to a chiropractor to get evaluated and learn more.
2Ryan, Camille, “Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2016,” American Community Survey Reports, ACS-39, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2017.